The need for Christian denominations in the UK to work together is greater than ever, a church conference in Edinburgh on Brexit has been told.
Following the recent triggering of Article 50 the ‘Europe – Where Now?’ event, at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, gathered representatives from every corner of the British isles to discuss how Churches in the UK can best serve the interests of people living in a post-EU landscape.
The two day conference, organised by Action of Churches Together In Scotland (ACTS), Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC), heard from a range of speakers who brought perspectives from different parts of the UK and Europe. The conference was challenged to have a stronger prophetic voice and to develop a European strategy for action.
Rev Canon Jeremy Worthen, ecumenical officer at the Church of England, said there was now a need for a “fresh approach” on ecumenical relations.
Dr Kenneth Milne, representing the Irish Council of Churches, said there was “real concern” that progress made on alleviating tensions on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland would be halted as the EU border will now cross the same path.
Talking during a panel discussion titled ‘Europe – Where Now? Perspectives from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales’ Rev Aled Edwards, CEO of Churches Together in Wales, said:
“Churches in the UK need, now more than ever, to ask themselves: are we able to lay aside our differences to come together to tackle the evils of this world? We need to be together.
“Are we fragmented? Could, for example, Christian Aid be formed in today’s current climate?”
Rev Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said there was much work to be done by churches to improve platforms which allow the voices of ordinary people who are affected by leaving the European Union to be heard.
“It’s very important churches speak with and on behalf of wider society. Not just for those within the institutions of the church.”
The event was part of a series of meetings across Europe contributing to the Conference of European Churches exploration of “What future for Europe?” ahead of their 2018 Assembly.
Through the Joint Public Issues Team, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, a resource has been created to enable congregations to explore the future of the UK after it exits the European Union.
“Conversation Welcome” can be downloaded here